book review, fantasy

The Beforetimes by Boots

The Harrower

The Mother has deposed the King, who is now in exile. Raising armies against him, the vengeful queen has an ace up her sleeve – the bovine Harrower with the power of fire. However, what does the Harrower feel about being used as a weapon of mass destruction?

I love the world of this story. It’s a bit like a fairy tale and everything feels symbolic. The queen calls herself The Mother and wears a crown of thorns. The people of the grasslands are some sort of horned cattle people, like the Harrower (another symbolic name).

The story is incredibly imaginative and the writing is good. The world building is subtle and draws you into the story. I already care deeply about the Harrower, and I can’t wait to find out more about him.

I particularly love the care that has gone into producing this electronic serial magazine. The front cover, with image by the author, is exquisite. I love the illustration, and looking at the other details makes me so happy. You can tell much love has gone into producing this story.

I award The Harrower


The Lostling

Issue number 2 introduces a new character, the Lostling Hyrhyn (pronounced like here in). Running from those who would imprison her, she stumbles upon the Harrower and offers him her friendship.

Lostling is such a sweet name for orphan. The world expands in this installment, while still keeping an enchanting fairy tale mood. I loved how the Harrower’s story continued, and there were hints of interesting developments. I liked Hyrhyn, but I hope to learn about her and see her character rounded out more in future issues.

Once again the cover illustration and production of the book are both excellent.

I award The Lostling


The Broodthrall

Nix has an important question to ask the exiled king, but the arrival of the Harrower puts a spanner in the works. With the Mother’s armies drawing near, what will happen when the two rulers meet?

Ahhhh! This installment is the most exciting yet. So much happens. A new character is introduced – the thylacine like Nix – with a traumatic backstory and a sharp personality that immediately draws you into their plight.

The Harrower’s journey gets even more harrowing, if that’s possible.

The fate of the world has never been so uncertain.

Much as I loved this installment, it raised lots of questions. I loved the almost metaphorical depiction of animal like people in the first two stories. It introduced a world where some people looked like humans, some like gnu, etc, with no explanation necessary. It just was. Those that looked different experienced the same sort of nastiness that humans subject other humans to in this world.

However, the differences between the animal people is a big part of this installment, without any indication of how or why these hybrids are possible, and it’s driving my literal brain nuts. When real world natural processes are explicitly described (and I love the inclusion of how incredible marsupials are), I expect real world rules to apply, unless otherwise stated, and as there is no way that real world rules could apply to this situation I am desperately hoping for some sort of magical explanation in the next edition.

I award The Broodthrall


Click here to download these charming editions free, and look around the website to learn more about the world.

5 thoughts on “The Beforetimes by Boots”

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